Monday, August 31, 2009

Adam Rokhsar's videos

Adam Rokhsar has been producing some of the most inspiring experimental videos I've seen in the last few years...

Rokshar's works incorporate information processing techniques, programming, file conversion, etc. to question how the computer technology stores and processes images & sounds. This questioning - achieved with great taste, a sense of integrity, and an unmistakable aesthetics - push the boundaries of video as we know it. I know of no other person who uses these "new" programmes to create new rhythms, new textures, and a unique harmony.

There's no doubt Rokshar controls the processes with precision, and care, but he also allows and embraces a great deal of randomness, which is what makes these works so lively, and which, at moments, cracks open the gateways to see, to grasp, how the information has been processed. What he makes "transparent" is not only himself (through the use of face-detection software), it is also the whole technology behind the final works produced. Somewhere on Vimeo, he mentions "videos that function both as a video and also as a way to visualize information about that video." Which only proves he knows exactly what's happening...

READ Adam Rokhsar's descriptions of his videos; they show a great attention the the process. He talks about his works as a scientist would talk about his experiments. The descriptions may even seem cold, but art comes rarely without an exciting process. Here is the seemingly "artless" description of his The story I am trying to tell you...:

"I took pictures of myself using my Canon digital camera using a very slow shutter speed. The pictures were processed with OpenGL and converted in Max to a movie, which I then hacked with avidemux2 to add static and the compression error effects.

I recorded myself speaking a short text and loaded the audio into Max. By extracting the amount of motion from the video using frame differencing, I could map that number inversely to the sampling rate of the audio, so that my voice could only be heard in fragments of visual motion."

Repeat: "so that my voice could only be heard in fragments of visual motion." Rokhsar takes the "outside world", a "reality" (and sometimes the "reality" is home movies - videos - from his childhood, or his own face), which he abstracts, without losing the first connection. When you look closely, the works are not so impersonal after all. They are consciously expressive.

Especially in the videos after Ontology (I'm not a big fan of his works before that), this skipping between different techniques somehow produces unexpected rhythms, beautiful colors, elusive sounds and a constant dynamism. What strikes me first about Adam Rokhsar's videos is their impeccable beauty. The rest comes much later, while I continously care about what's on my computer screen. His best videos offer deep layers of meaninglessness, video-textures that captivate the eye, and constantly shifting centers of gravity. On the Internet, there are few things more worth your time. I think my favorites, in an arbitrary order of preference, are: Engulfment (3), What's on TV?, Closure (4), Memory.

His blog, where he uploads his finished works, is titled Make Yourself Transparent. There's a nice biography of his here.

Adam Rokshar's own description of Engulfment (3):
"When I was a therapist, my supervisor taught me that engulfment was the experience of feeling absorbed or swallowed up by another person.

Here is an exploration of engulfment by a machine: watch as the computer finds my face using automatic face detection, and then recursively averages it until each pixel becomes entirely white.

As the amount of whiteness increases, the sampling rate and bit depth of the audio decreases– this means that fewer and fewer samples of sound are taken, and that each sample is increasingly constrained to fewer values.

The original audio is the sound of an empty room, and the air conditioning."

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Friday, May 29, 2009

Favorite videos on Vimeo

If you look around closely, Vimeo also offers some true art, works that are worth seeing, works that might change how you look around, and how you interpret images. I created a channel for such videos, called, appropriately, Yoel Meranda's favorite Vimeo videos. I'll add new entries to this as I encounter such videos...

I'll have to wait a bit more to make specific claims on individual videomakers, but I'll really enjoy going back again and again to these works.

I stongly suggest everyone to see Clint Enns' windshield baby gameboy movie, or Ted Sonnenschein's von Friedrichstrasse nach Ostkreuz, or Jared Brandle's Yawn, or Adam
Rokshar's CONNECTED, for example...

The image above is from Vimeo Bug by Le PĂ´Le.

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